‘Push’, says the buzzer on the brick wall adjacent to the dark wood front door.
A few moments later the heavy door swings open, revealing a young Portuguese man with a brawny physique, who ushers us inside with a smile. Unsure of his ability in English, he speaks quietly while motioning with his hands to indicate that we should wait for a minute until Filipa comes to give us a personal tour.
Two Portuguese women in their twenties (Filipa and Mariana), along with a young man named Paulo, alternate shifts at the Palace to keep everything running smoothly and instill a relaxed vibe. I get the sense that front desk receptionist is considered a bureaucratic insult, reserved for alternative accommodation options in need of titles and formality.
Palacete Chafariz D’el Rei is difficult to categorize. With only 6 uniquely decorated suites, not exactly a hotel. Yet, it is certainly more intimate, luxurious, and stately than any bed & breakfast I have visited.
The staff are genuinely friendly and could be mistaken for guests at times: dressed in casual attire, always with a warm smile, relaxed attitude, and devoid of pomp or ceremony. If comfortable luxury is what you seek, you have found an oasis in Chafariz D’el Rei.
Filipa rounds the corner smiling while introducing herself, “Welcome! I’m so sorry to keep you waiting. I was just tending to another guest.” We arrived in the morning with the intention of depositing our luggage, knowing full well our room would not be ready for another few hours.
“Come and let me show you around, then you can take tea or coffee on the balcony,” Filipa offers. Who are we to argue, palace life awaits!
Comfortable Luxury in Lisbon
Chafariz D’el Rei seems custom built for vacationers whose heart yearns to step back in time to enjoy a taste of old-world European charm. Situated in the chic and trendy Alfama District, overlooking the Tagus River, the one-time aristocratic home provides a glimpse of stylized palace life, and exemplifies a slice of upper class society during the early 1900s in Lisbon.
Filipa guides us around the palace, telling us the unbelievable story about the wealthy man who commissioned Chafariz D’el Rei, and how he was never able to live in the palace. Apparently his wife – a woman of considerable physical size – did not like the narrow doors and told her husband to sell the place!
Come for the Atmosphere, Stay for Tea
Unpretentious yet refined, comfortable and elegant; the grand 4 story estate is worthy of many types of travelers.
- Honeymooners in need of rest and romance in equal parts will feel quite at home in any of the six palace suites.
- Couples traveling with an animal are delighted to learn that luxury travel in Lisbon is possible thanks to Chafariz D’el Rei’s pet friendly policy.
- Cruise ship passengers can walk from the nearby port to view the opulent palace while enjoying an afternoon tea experience.
Spacious Palace Suites
We stayed in deluxe suite with the name Vista Rio, and marveled at the obviously ironed bed sheets, adjoining living room decorated with gold trim and painted columns, wood doors that swung open to reveal a balcony overlooking the river, and large sized bathroom with claw foot bathtub and separate rain shower.
A tranquil fountain on the outdoor patio pays homage to the fact that this is the site of the oldest fountain in Lisbon. Indeed, later that day while browsing a local museum at city hall, we were surprised to see an old painting from the 16th century that clearly showed Chafariz D’el Rei (and the rest of Lisbon for that matter) as it existed before the great earthquake of 1755.
The largest and most grand room in the house is the chandelier clad ballroom. Nowadays, evening parties give way to afternoon affairs whereby visitors partake in the palace’s splendid surroundings whilst enjoying a soothing cup of tea.
The outdoor terrace provides a welcome sanctuary from exploring the city of Lisbon. Within 10 minutes of stepping inside the slender wood front door of the palace, down the grand atrium towards the far end, we find ourselves enjoying a cup of tea while absorbing the sound of trickling water from the fountain cum bird bath. Drowned only by the hustle and bustle of dim street sounds below, it is easy to appreciate how Jennifer finds solace in such a space.
Loyal Palace Guest
“Who is Jennifer?” you may ask. Although I do not personally know Jennifer, I consider her a palace institution given the reverence that all three staff members speak about her. An older lady from America, Jennifer has visited every year since the palace was converted into the present day accommodation option.
We try to get an audience with Jennifer in order to hear why she loves coming to the palace so much, but are disappointed to learn that she departed earlier that morning. She stays for one month at a time, enjoying the vintage decor, authentic atmosphere, and tea in the afternoon.
Why Guests Love Chafariz D’el Rei
We reluctantly leave our palace suite – complete with sweeping views of the Crystal Symphony cruise ship docked nearby – and venture downstairs in the early evening.
We stop at the old music room (now front desk) to introduce ourselves to Mariana, and pick her brain regarding dining options nearby. Our desire for a good Italian meal brings a spark to Mariana’s eyes, “You’ll love this little place just down the road. I go there once in a while when I need an Italian food fix.”
Sitting in the front library I survey the vintage style furniture, ample cornice work lovingly restored over a period of 3 years, and ornate wood doorway tucked away in the corner, which Mariana informs us is actually a secret safe!
Each portion of the luxury palace blends seamlessly with the next, stitched together by the ample amount of light flowing through the multitude of stained glass windows; adding to the kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and smells that bombard the senses. You may think you have entered a functional museum – sit on the leather couch in the library, open a window if you want, or run your fingers over the keys of the vintage baby grand piano.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any festive Christmas music playing from the piano as it needs tuning, and the closest qualified piano tuner is hundreds of miles away in Scotland!
“We really get to know our guests and make them feel as though they are at home,” Mariana explains. That is certainly the case. One feels as though they are visiting an old friend for the weekend
* * *
My mind is at ease for having missed the opportunity to speak with Jennifer in person to ask why she faithfully returns year in and year out. I suspect I already know what she would say.
Come experience Palacete Chafariz D’el Rei for yourself and you’ll understand the unspoken secret too.
Tower suite with rooftop balcony
As the CEO of Love & Lavender, Andrew wears many hats. He is an expert in affiliate marketing, SEO, and content creation. He loves to cook a mean curry, is a Japanophile, enjoys slow travel, and loves to spend time with his wife and adorable son.